With the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview and training camp and the preseason three months away, it’s too early to determine whether one or any members of any team’s undrafted rookie class will make the final cut anywhere in 2022. However, it’s not too soon to project which one(s) stands the best chance of making the Baltimore Ravens’ initial 53-man roster from their crop based on remaining needs and lack of depth on the team as it currently stands.
The Ravens will hold their Rookie Minicamp this weekend, where many of these perceived longshots — some more or less than others — will have an opportunity to make their first in-person impressions as professionals.
WR Makai Polk
2021 stats: 13 games, 105 catches, 1,046 yards, and nine touchdowns
In addition to needing speed at the wide receiver position, the Ravens could also benefit from adding more size on the outside. The former Mississippi State Rebel is 6-foot-3 and used it to his advantage during a breakout season after transferring from the University of California.
While Polk doesn’t possess breakaway speed and isn’t the best separator, he works the boundary with great body control, high points the ball well, and has great ball skills. He makes great adjustments to the ball and has some wiggle to his game after the catch.
WR Shemar Bridges
2021 stats: Four games, 28 catches, 292 receiving yards and one touchdown
The former Fort Valley State Wildcat didn’t have prolific production in college but he does possess impressive measurables and playmaking ability at 6-foot-4, 207 pounds. He is a big-bodied receiver that specializes in coming down with jump balls and making contested catches.
Shemar Bridges continues to show why he's an NFL prospect.— Andscape (@andscape) September 6, 2021
Tuskegee 0 pic.twitter.com/AZnIs6udZ4
WR Trevon Clark
2021 stats: 10 games, 33 catches, 658 yards, four touchdowns
The former University of California Golden Bear offers both size and vertical playmaking ability at 6-foot-4. Clark was the primary deep threat for the Golden Bears during his breakout 2021 campaign, when he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception. Even though he did run a blazing 40-yard dash time at the Combine or his Pro Day, Clark’s tape showed he possesses faster game speed and he consistently got behind opposing defenses to make plays downfield.
CB Denzel Williams
2021 stats: 10 games, 16 tackles, two interceptions, two passes defensed
The Ravens are firm believers in the mantra that “you can never have enough corners” and are looking for a new nickelback after releasing Tavon Young this offseason. Even though they drafted Damarion Williams in the fourth round and have Ar’Darius Washington returning, the door is still open. Denzel Williams, a 5-foot-10 and 190-pound former Villanova Wildcat, could be another candidate that would need a strong camp and preseason to stand out and separate himself.
Like Young, he played mostly on the outside in college but projects better to the slot in the NFL. Williams is sticky in coverage, drives and makes plays on the ball, is aggressive in run support as a blitzer, and is a strong tackler. He can fight through blocks to make a stop or at least slow a ball carrier down so teammates can rally.
WR Slade Bolden
2021 stats: 15 games, 42 catches, 408 yards, three touchdowns
While the Ravens are already well-stocked with undersized slot receivers on the roster, a team can never have too many sure-handed targets in the passing game. The former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide is a gritty and shifty player that knows how to create separation with crisp route running. He’s also adept at finding and sitting down in the softs of zone coverage.
Bolden will also need to show out on special teams during training camp and the preseason to gain an edge over his larger undrafted competition at the position. He gives me Cole Beasley vibes both in playing style and personality. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped an album with Gus Edwards if he wound up making the team.
ILB Josh Ross
2021 stats: 14 games, 106 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two pass deflections, and 0.5 sacks
With the additions that the Ravens brought in at safety this offseason, the likelihood of an undrafted off-ball linebacker won’t be as high as it has been in years past. However, if any of the rookies that they signed at the position stand the greatest chance, Ross is the most likely candidate.
He had his best collegiate season in 2021 under Mike MacDonald and is the most familiar with the system of the bunch. The former Michigan Wolverine led the team in total tackles and was the field general in the middle of a fearsome defense, which featured a pair of first-rounders. It would’ve been three had David Ojabo not suffered a torn Achilles in the pre-draft process and fell to the Ravens in the second round.
Josh Ross (Michigan LB 12) always impresses me whenever I watch the Michigan defense. Has 95 tackles this season and moves well at 6-2 and 224 pounds.— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 6, 2021
Reads and reacts to the run.
Fills the gap.
Gets skinny and makes the tackle. pic.twitter.com/8SQoz6nshK
WR Devon Williams
2021 stats: 10 games, 35 catches, 557 yards, four touchdowns
The former Oregon Duck is the tallest target on this list at 6-foot-5 and weighing 207 pounds. Williams uses his size well in jump-ball and contested-catch situations, where he high points the ball while boxing out and walling off defenders. While he never cracked 600 receiving yards in a single season, Williams showed that he could deep-threat down the field when targeted. He averaged 19.1 yards per catch in 2020 and 15.9 in his best statistical season last year.
OT Aron Johnson
The Ravens drafted Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele in the fourth round but could use some more depth at offensive tackle, an area that hamstrung their offense last year due to injuries.
The former South Dakota State Jack Rabbit started 20 of the 48 games he appeared in college. Johnson has a slightly light, yet still solid build at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, and was the starting left tackle for an offense that averaged 231 rushing yards per game in 2021. So, he has experience and prowess playing in a run heavy scheme.
DT Rayshad Nichols
2021 stats: 14 games, 51 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.
The former Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack is an athletic interior pass rusher and was very productive in his breakout senior season. Nichols is lightly undersized at 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds but is extremely strong at the point of attack and uses violent active hands to quickly shed blocks.
WR Raleigh Webb
2021 stats: 11 games, 25 catches, 536 yards, and three touchdowns
The former Citadel Bulldog is another intriguing deep threat option with the breakaway speed to run away from defenders. He averaged 21.4 yards per carry last year and has upside a special teams contributor as gunner.